09 January 2013

9 January - St. Julian the Hospitalarian

Weather – The weather today foretells the weather of September.


“At Antioch, in the reign of Diocletian and Maximian, the birthday of the Saints Julian, martyr, and Basilessa, his virgin wife.  Having lived in a state of virginity with her husband, she reached the end of her days in peace.  But after the death by fire of a multitude of priests and ministers of the Church of Christ, who had taken refuge in his house from the severity of the persecution, Julian was ordered by the president Marcian to be tormented in many way and executed.  With him suffered Anthony, a priest, and Anastasius, whom Julian raised from the dead, and made partaker of the grace of Christ; also, Celsus, a boy, with his mother Marcionilla, seven brothers, and many others.”

Today we honor Saint Julian and his wife Saint Basilissa, patrons of hospitals.

Julian was the son of noble parents of Antinoe, in Egypt.  They wished him to marry, but he, preferring to devote himself to a religious life, was unwilling to consider the idea until Christ appeared in a vision and told him that he and his wife would live chastely together as brother and sister, and finally enter Heaven as virgins.  Upon this promise, Julian married Basilissa, a maiden noted for her piety, and enjoyed, on their wedding night, visions of their names written in the Book of Life.  With their considerable revenues, they turned their house into a hospital and devoted themselves to the relief of the poor and sick.  For this, Julian is called the Hospitalarian or Hospitator (It. Giuliano Ospitale; Fr. Julien le Hospitaller).

Basilissa died peacefully in her bed, but Julian gained the crown of martyrdom in the persecutions of Diocletian (early 4th century) with Marcianilla, a lay-woman, and her young son, Celsus; the priest, Antony; and Anastasius, a convert.  

Julian is often confused with another Julian, called “The Poor”, whose legend relates that he unknowingly killed his parents and in penance built a hospice for travelers and himself ferried pilgrims across the nearby river.

In honor of Julian and Basilissa, do something for a local hospital or nursing home.  Volunteer once a week to play checkers at the veteran’s home.  Knit small caps for newborns, or make blankets or quilts to cheer up the children in hospital.  Our church makes prayer shawls, which Father blesses and takes to nursing homes in the parish, with a reminder that the parish is praying for the recipients.  Donate books or movies.  Volunteer to run the library.  There are lots of opportunities to show the same love of God that Julian and Basilissa showed in their lives.

“Saints Julian and Basilissa”, from John Gilmary Shea, Pictorial Lives of the Saints (1889), p. 41.